We all love meals out of doors but are you fully familiar with your stove? Gas is the popular choice for easy and convenient cooking and larger groups and families tend to use a larger multi burner stove and a gas cylinder. Our guide here will help you use it safely and efficiently.
Campers have the choice of propane or butane. Propane (normally in a red cylinder) is ideal for colder conditions like late season and winter camping, but butane (normally in a blue cylinder) is more popular for, although less efficient, it burns cleaner and you get slightly more for your bucks. It also works at a lower pressure than propane so needs a different regulator. You rent your cylinders and then just purchase the refill via a cylinder exchange when empty. Prices vary greatly between suppliers so check them out carefully – especially if travelling abroad
Tip: To find out how much gas you have left after a trip take the empty (tare) weight from the cylinder and convert from pounds to kilograms (if needed) by multiplying by 0.453592. Place on some bathroom scales to get its total weight and deduct the empty cylinder weight to give you how much gas you have left against the fill weight.
There is no universal regulator and you have to match your regulator with the gas type and gas supplier. Some regulators simply clip on to the cylinder. Others screw on. Calor Gas requires a gas spanner to connect its regulator – using a counter-clockwise twist to prevent you accidently undoing the connection. Campingaz is readily available throughout most of Europe so no need to change regulators if travelling and using this gas source.
Tip: Never try to repair a regulator – they do not cost that much so carry a spare in case the one in use seizes.
Use the correct hose – those manufactured in the UK are stamped with the British Standard 3212. Buy ample hose to connect cylinder to stove without placing stress on joints or pulling the stove from the work surface. The hose is normally pushed on to the regulator and stove, being kept in place with jubilee clips. Immerse the ends in hot water to make them supple and easier to fit. Once connected smear the joints with washing-up liquid and turn on the gas – bubbles will show up any leaks if your sense of smell does not pick up the pungent smell of the chemical added for this purpose.
Tip: Regularly inspect the hose for signs of wear and replace at least every five years from the date of manufacture that you’ll find stamped on the hose.
Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning are real risks… It is wise to cook outside using an extension, tarp or separate cook tent in inclement weather. A good, stable kitchen unit will keep the work surface at the correct height for comfort and safety.
• Never use a naked flame to locate a leak
• Never change a cylinder while smoking or near a flame
• Change a cylinder in the open air
• Disconnect regulator and turn off any cylinder valve before travel
• Do not use a stove near inflammable materials
• Do not move a stove when lit
• Store, transport and use cylinders in the upright position
• Treat a cylinder with care and do not subject to heat
REMEMBER while natural gas is not poisonous in itself it does produce carbon monoxide when burnt and this is deadly in enclosed spaces. Cook outside on a stable surface.